Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do your homework, Opie! Aunt Bea would be so sad

Oh, Opie. I know they probably had only one Catholic church in Mayberry. But surely your pop, Sheriff Andy, or your teacher, Miss Helen, would have told you get your facts straight before completing an assignment on The Catholic Religion. I know I had to do quite a bit of research to complete my project on Islam when I was in 8th grade at Our Lady of Fatima in New Castle, Delaware.

Non-Catholic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette religion editor Ann Rodgers has a cool (in both senses of the word -- "nifty" and "non-inflammatory") article that lists the stupidities about the Catholic Church present in Ron Howard's film Angels and Demons.

Here's the one that made me laugh out loud. Apparently, in the film there is a bomb threat while the cardinals are in conclave, electing a new pope, and the cardinals refuse to leave or even to have St. Peter's Square evacuated:
The senior cardinal says of thousands of endangered visitors, "We all go to heaven."
That line of dialogue is just so risible! It's one of those goofily pious things that religious characters say in fiction written by people who are clueless as to what a daily life of faith is like.

As Rodgers writes:
I'm not sure I can count all of the ways that statement violates Catholic teaching. I once covered a papal Mass at which a far larger crowd was evacuated mid-liturgy due to lightning.
Of course, many folks are so ignorant about the Vatican that they well might think this is how cardinals think and act.

I am currently reading Lord of the World, an apocalyptic SF novel published by Robert Hugh Benson in 1907, and set in the late 20th or early 21st century. This novel, described by Fulton J. Sheen as one of the three greatest depictions of the advent of the demonic in modern literature - the other two being The Brothers Karamazov and Solovyov 's Three Conversations - has one of its characters explain the Catholic faith to his wife, who had just witnessed a priest minister to a dying man:
"My dear, I'll tell you what he believes. He believes that that man whom he showed the crucifix to, and said those words over, is alive somewhere, in spite of his brain being dead: he is not quite sure where; but he is either in a kind of smelting works being slowly burned; or, if he is very lucky, and that piece of wood took effect, he is somewhere beyond the clouds, before Three Persons who are only One although They are Three; that there are quantities of other people there, a Woman in Blue, a great many others in white with their heads under their arms, and still more with their heads on one side; and that they've all got harps and go on singing for ever and ever, and walking about on the clouds, and liking it very much indeed."
He gave no more thought to his exposition of the Christian creed; it was a mere commonplace to him that Catholics believed that kind of thing; it was no more blasphemous to his mind so to describe it, than it would be to laugh at a Fijian idol with mother-of-pearl eyes, and a horse-hair wig; it was simply impossible to treat it seriously. He, too, had wondered once or twice in his life how human beings could believe such rubbish; but psychology had helped him, and he knew now well enough that suggestion will do almost anything. And it was this hateful thing that had so long restrained the euthanasia movement with all its splendid mercy.
If a contemporary filmmaker took on Fijian idol worship in a film, want to bet he'd treat it with serious research and respect?

I can't help but have a fondness for both Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. They have both brought me hours of entertainment. And at least this one isn't the outright offensive hooie of The DaVinci Code.

But.... oh, Opie.

1 comment:

Curious Curandera said...

LOL...I love this post and the photos!